Families whose loved ones are buried at a church graveyard at Bovevagh, outside Dungiven, say their grief has been added to after they were asked to remove mementoes from the headstones.
The families claim they were told last month if they didn’t remove the plaques by the end of Wednesday the Select Vestry, which manages the graveyard, would act.
The Church of Ireland has defended the decision and said no approval for the items was given. As of yesterday, the items remained on the grave.
Jean McCloskey said: “The clergyman approached me and asked me to take off the wee picture. No reason was given. The church just said it was inappropriate and they wanted it removed.
“Daddy is very upset about it all and if we were supposed to ask permission to have it there no one told us. We will not be taking it off, full stop.”
Sadie Young’s partner, Willie Hutton died just 15 months ago. She also received a letter from the church authorities.
She said. “The wee picture is doing no harm to anyone.”
Georgine Traynor was also contacted about the small picture of her parents on the headstone.
“I’m upset and the whole family is upset.”
In a statement, A Church of Ireland spokesperson said three families had received letters seeking the removal of items which were not approved.
“Select Vestries have responsibility for the care of graveyards for past, present and future generations,” said the spokesperson.
“In the care of graveyards it’s the aim of every Select Vestry, including that of Bovevagh parish, to provide a final resting place and a place of comfort for all generations, and to ensure the graveyard is a place where everyone feels comfortable visiting.
“Bovegagh Select Vestry, in common with others, seeks to do so sensitively and for the good for all.”